K071 Little Canon

deutsch K071 Huldigung an Nadia Boulanger

K71 Hommage à Nadia Boulanger

Petit canon pour la fête de Nadia Boulanger — Huldigung an Nadia Boulanger. Kleiner Kanon zur Feier von Nadia Boulanger — Little Canon – Omaggio a Nadia Boulanger. Piccolo canone per il festeggiamento di Nadia Boulanger

Numbering: The existence of this work was associated with the incorrect date of 1944 until 1958 so that it held a chronologically false position between the Scherzo à la Russe and the Elégie. This was not corrected for the same reasons for which the numbering of the works was not changed.

Title: Since the work was not published during Strawinsky's lifetime, there is no authoritative printed title. The English name, ‘Little Canon’, goes back to White, and the subtitle ‘Petit Canon pour la Fête de Nadia Boulanger’ goes back to the autograph acknowledgements, which Robert Craft in turn passed on to White. The printed title ‘Hommage á Nadia Boulanger’ is taken from the manuscript.

Scored for: Cantus [Soprano], Alto.

Source: The words for the canon are by Jean de Meung [1240-1305].

Construction: The work is a short two-part motet at a length of 10 bars.

Style: The Canon takes as its models Netherlandish motets in the style of Orlando di Lassus. Since both parts do not contain the same rhythmic and melodic note values, the work is not in fact a canon in the strictly contrapuntal sense of the word. The alto part is a melodic imitation of the top part at the fifth below with small rhythmic alterations to allow the parts to fit together well. The resulting dissonances melt in the vocal sound. This intimate work is in the long tradition of imitation.

Dedication: > Hommage à Nadia Boulanger à chanter à son anniversaire, l'an 1947, le jour du 16 septembre à l'occasion duquel ces vers de Jean de Meung (XIIIè siècle) furent mis en musique par Igor Stravinsky (XXè siècle)< [ A homage to Nadia Boulanger, to be sung at her birthday, 16th September 1947, for which occasion these verses by Jean de Meung (13th Century) were set to music by Igor Stravinsky (20th Century)].

Duration: about 40".

Date of origin: Hollywood [probably September] 1947.

Remarks: On 16th September 1947, Nadia Boulanger (born in Paris in 1887), who was artistically very closely linked with Strawinsky, celebrated her 60th birthday. For this reason, Strawinsky composed the Canon which was first published in 1982 by Boosey & Hawkes and bears the date of Boulanger’s birthday, 16th September 1947, on the manuscript. It can therefore be assumed that the work was produced in September 1947 under time pressure because it came shortly before the completion of the ballet Orpheus, unless Strawinsky did as he was often wont, and re-used old sketch material.

Significance: The composition – despite its brevity – shows Strawinsky’s good relationship to tradition, according to Karlheinrich Hodes*.

* Letter to the author.

Autograph: The autograph score, which belongs to Nadia Boulanger, was entered into the holding of the Paris National Library along with Boulanger’s entire estate, and the neat copy remained with Strawinsky and is now in the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel.


K Cat­a­log: Anno­tated Cat­a­log of Works and Work Edi­tions of Igor Straw­in­sky till 1971, revised version 2014 and ongoing, by Hel­mut Kirch­meyer.
© Hel­mut Kirch­meyer. All rights reserved.
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